An opinion on European Territorial Cooperation was presented by rapporteur Petr Osvald (CZ/PES) and was adopted at the Committee of the Region's (CoR) July plenary. It calls for the European Commission to raise the level of co-financing rate from 75% to 85% for programmes involving less developed regions. Osvald's opinion on the Commission's proposal "Regulation on specific provisions for the support from the European Regional Development Fund to the European territorial cooperation goal" also stresses the need to improve coordination between European funds.
Within the opinion, the CoR argues that the draft Regulation is "too demanding, complicated and detailed, especially for small cross-border cooperation programmes" which may prevent the implementation of small but often very effective operations. The CoR opinion therefore calls for more flexibility and different treatment of the management of small and large projects.
The European Territorial Cooperation (ETC), included in the cohesion policy package, plays a key role in promoting European integration and territorial cohesion through its three strands of cooperation (cross-border, transnational and interregional). The opinion argues that thematic concentration on the EU 2020 Strategy as laid down in the proposal should not automatically apply to ETC because "not all border areas have the same potential. Some offer suitable conditions for the creation of research and development facilities, whereas others don't", and therefore should be extended to more thematic priorities.
Regional authorities also defended the level of funding that should be made available for ETCs which they propose should instead be raised to 85% for programmes involving less developed regions, as is the case in the current programming period.
Finally, the opinion pleads for better coordination of European Funds and suggests that specific measures should be put in place to manage this task. For example, ETC activities which are thematically linked to the European Social Fund could also be eligible for funding. On the same token the CoR opinion recommends "to coordinate the new Connecting Europe Facility with European Territorial Cooperation programmes, since this new instrument should cover cross-border and international relations".
Now that the European Parliament has set up a negotiation team, next steps in the legislative process will see the informal trilogue with the European Council and the European Commission starting from September 2012.